The royal palace was a sea of white last night as thousands of guests attended the state banquet held for the golden jubilee of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Dining under crystal chandeliers and golden trimmings, His Majesty and Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha sat at the head of a 44-seat table surrounded by regional leaders and royals from Malaysia, Britain and the Middle East.
The VIP guest list was a who’s who of Southeast Asia, among them Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
Royals attending the banquet included Malaysia’s Agong Sultan Muhammad V, Britain’s Prince Edward and Princess Sophie and Prince Hashim bin Al-Husein of Jordan.
While the VIP guests turned out in black tie or ceremonial uniform, the Brunei guests came dressed in the customary white reserved for night-time state occasions at the palace.
Guests dined on a spread that included terrine of lobster, soft-shell crab, cream of beetroot and carrot soup, lamb chanterelle, venison rendang, chicken korma, snapper in egg yolk wrap, and nasi minyak.
The night ended with an impressive fireworks display above Istana Nurul Iman.
The state banquet is part of month-long celebrations for His Majesty’s golden jubilee. After Thursday’s royal procession through the capital, other highlights of the celebration include the opening of the Sungai Kebun bridge on October 14 and the launching of the Bandar Seri Begawan Eco-Corridor on October 22.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ascended the throne on October 5, 1967, at the age of 21, following the abdication of his father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien.
He is now the world’s second-longest reigning monarch, after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated 65 years on the throne last February.
The sultan is also the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam.